Spring 2022 - HIST 132 D100

Global Environmental History (3)

Class Number: 4632

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 8:30 AM – 10:20 AM
    RCB 8100, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 14, 2022
    12:00 PM – 12:00 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby



A planetary-scale introduction to reciprocal human-environment interactions from the discovery of fire to the present day. Case studies focus on humans and non-human actors in specific locales, and their movement across continents and oceans. Themes include climate, energy regimes, disease, science and technology, agriculture, subsistence, and landscape change. Breadth-Hum/Social Sci/Science.


Our species has told stories about nature since before we had words. Our defining trait is an intense and sustained effort to defeat, harness, nurture, and worship nature. We leveled forests, bloomed deserts, stoppered seas, and changed climate. This course traces that thirteen-thousand-year global history as a general interest primer on the field of environmental history. Lectures and readings address the reciprocal relations between culture and ecology at a planetary scale. Eight themes shape the narrative: food, energy, settlement, population, disease, climate, knowing, and veneration. Students will be asked to identify how societies and nature reciprocally shaped each other across time and space, and how each narrative thread ties to other threads in context-dependent ways. Tales about food were inherently also about population and settlement; energy, disease, and climate were implicated as well. The course begins with the retreat of ice sheets and rise of agriculture. By 13000 YBP humans had gathering into permanent settlements alongside domesticated animals. Populations grew in ways that pressured resources and nurtured pathogens. People altered local ecologies and planetary climate many millennia ago, and the social and ecological feedback loops only accelerated across time. Read, listen, and learn just how old the Anthropocene is, and how complex our environmental relationships have been.


  • Midterms* 50%
  • Paper 15%
  • Final exam* 25%
  • Quizzes 10%


*NOTE: the course exams will be conducted online rather than in person in spring 2022.



No required textbook. Scholarly articles and primary documents available online.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.